TAMPA, Fla — The paint is dry, the pavement fresh, and the lights are lit as crews scramble to finish up any last-minute work on and underneath the Lee Roy Selmon Extension.
The $230-million project will extend the existing tollway an additional 1.9 miles to the Gandy Bridge.
Early Monday morning, crews finished up last-minute work, unwrapping the signs that will direct cars onto the westbound lanes of the new extension.
Workers could also be seen cleaning the roadway and working on the SunPass sensors.
“It’s awesome! I’m excited,” said Jacob Merrett who lives in south Pinellas County and commutes each day to work in Tampa.
He says the new elevated roadway will mean no more waiting for lights at Dale Mabry, Lois, Manhattan and Westshore. Those lights would often snarl traffic during rush hour and on Rays and Lightning game nights as commuters would try to get from one side of the bay to the other.
The travel time down Gandy during heavy traffic could easily take between 15 and 30 minutes.
A spokesperson for the Expressway Authority says the new travel time on the Selmon Extension will cut that time down to two minutes.
“I kind of think I’m never going to have to stop on Gandy again,” said Merrett. “People are going to be able to keep going because there’s not going to be traffic lights.”
Work on the project began in 2018, and after two and a half long years of building, the elevated connector is scheduled to open Monday sometime around noon.
A clock posted on the Selmon Extension website counts down the hours, minutes and seconds.
Commuters heading to Pinellas will find a new ramp onto the extension and will no longer have to exit at Gandy.
For those coming from South Tampa or MacDill Air Force Base, there will be additional on-ramps serving both directions for drivers heading north or south on Dale Mabry.
This new connector won’t be free. The toll will run commuters 95 cents if they have a SunPass or $1.31 if they don’t and utilize toll-by-plate.
The extra $10 round trip for an average workweek is well worth the money for some.
Merrett says it will mean more time home with his son.
“It’s not going to be a chore. It’ll be nice to not have to wait as long.”
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